SMBs need endpoint security software more than ever before

As cybercriminals target endpoints in the evolving workplace, SMBs need to safeguard their people and their businesses with always-on always watching hardware-enforced protection so that they can keep working, anytime and anywhere.

Companies are more concerned about and exposed to cyberthreats than ever before, with almost two-thirds (61%) describing themselves as at best only “fairly confident” at managing their current cybersecurity threat exposure. Many are also concerned that their cyber strategy is not keeping pace with the rate of tech innovation and changes in the threat landscape.

SMBs are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks including phishing and ransomware due to insufficient security staffing and training. These attacks lead to costly problems, including compromised systems, stolen data, and lengthy downtime.

"In a landscape where more security is needed than ever before, HP stands out among the tech vendors because its security efforts go further than most. HP Wolf Pro Security (WPS) helps SMBs overcome these challenges with a simple solution that delivers maximum security coverage without increasing the workload of IT staff or disrupting employee productivity." Arthur Venter, HP Product Manager, Tarsus Distribution

Endpoint security

Endpoint security is the first line of defence against cyberattacks. Because they are connected to networks, they have become an easy target. At the same time, because cybercriminals are more sophisticated, organised, and determined than ever, they have their sights set on SMBs’ endpoints.

HP WPS is always-on and always watching, to help ensure you and your team stay protected. This reduces the attack surface and enables remote recovery from firmware attacks. Self-healing firmware, in-memory breach detection and threat containment via isolation, all work together to protect the organisation’s endpoints.

These security services are available for businesses of every size. Self-managed and fully managed services give SMB owners and their teams access to cybersecurity experts and powerful analytical tools, as well as reinforce internal IT teams.

Easy to operate

SMBs need security solutions that are built with simplicity in mind. This includes straightforward policy management and solution maintenance, and ongoing alert management, which make security deployment and management easier.

The HP Wolf Security Controller offers a central command centre for managing the security and health of the business PCs, giving admins the ability to adjust security policies and review threat insights from anywhere.

Pre-configured policies enable speedy deployment, are easy to understand and require little ongoing tweaking for most environments. Ongoing security alerts make end-users aware of malicious activity, giving them notice only when their attention is needed and making it easy to identify suspicious activity on the PC.

Always-on protection for employees

Employees cannot be expected to spot increasingly sophisticated social engineering attacks. In addition, they need to work securely and be productive, making security measures that impede them from doing their jobs unsustainable.

With HP WPS employees can work safely in the knowledge that the security solution works behind the scenes, without impeding their day-to-day tasks. Threat containment technology isolates threats, allowing them to work from anywhere, even when their PC is disconnected from the Internet ensuring always-on protection.



Dell Precision: workstations that can handle any load

Filmmakers, animators, architects, designers, data scientists, and video editors all have something in common - they need superior power and performance when it comes to the computers they work on. Concurrently, with the amount of data being generated and stored every day skyrocketing, organisations across the globe have had to completely change the way they work from how they did a few years ago. 

Moreover, the increased demand for adopting artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics has led organisations to build machines that can handle these vast collections of data as well as manage the complexity of today’s workflows. And at the same time, security has become a critical concern, which is why companies who handle or use sensitive or private data don’t always want to rely on the cloud and prefer to turn to on-premise solutions that still have the advanced capabilities.

This is why organisations with these high-end requirements are turning to top-end workstations such as the Dell Precision range, as they need these superior capabilities to handle today’s demanding workloads, and powerful machines that have a lot of storage and speed, which the Precision range provides. After all, workstations, at their core, are simply high-performance computers that can handle heavy workloads. And while a basic workstation might look like a desktop machine with a tower, a mouse, and a keyboard, it’s what’s under the hood that really counts. 

With a huge central processing unit (CPU) and enormous storage space, workstations like the Dell Precision range can run multiple applications at the same time, and at far faster speeds. They were designed with data-heavy, technical workflows, such as rendering visual effects, editing and CAD in mind. For individuals who have to deal with larger projects, workstations are purpose-built computers that save a fortune in time and money and are far less prone to disruptions.

There are many industries that view workstations as critical tools - from media and entertainment to design and data science, or architecture and engineering, workstations used to design infrastructure and buildings bring animated movies to life, and are able to analyse and sift through floods of data to extract the real value.

However, all workstations are not created equal!  So, when it comes to choosing the right workstation, having a partner who understands your unique requirements and vision can make all the difference. Remember, workstations are workhorses, that were purpose-built to run for very long periods of time, so there are several things to look out for when shopping for the perfect machine.  

Your everyday workstation may not be suitable for every type of data science and analytics task, so all the specifications need to be carefully scrutinised before making an investment if you are to select the ideal machine for your needs. If, for example, you are looking to invest in a workstation for the purposes of data science and machine learning, there are several features that are an absolute must.

Here, both performance and reliability are non-negotiable, so high-performing CPU speed is of utmost importance. Similarly, reliability and easy servicing are top of the list, as these are some of the features that help the user minimise downtime and help organisations keep their workforces productive at all times.

For data-heavy industries such as the media, or film industry, graphics processing units or GPUs need to be engineered at a higher level to handle CAD and similar image rendering tools. While a desktop computer could possibly handle the basics of jobs such as video editing or 3D visualisation, as your projects get more complex, and broaden in scope, a workstation will offer far more optimal graphics infrastructure.

In today’s hybrid world, users on the go can also unleash innovation through the Precision range’s thinner, lighter, premium-designed mobile workstations that feature touch display operations as well as advanced thermal technologies that enable them to keep their systems running at high speeds, for a longer time.

Security is also a major issue for organisations and users across the board. Unfortunately, workstation users that have a varying degree of technical and security knowledge are using them constantly, communicating with colleagues and partners across the globe, to conduct their daily business. With workstations being a critical part of business comes a significant security burden, particularly for the company’s technical staff. This is why users need workstations, such as the Precision range, that feature key security features across the portfolio, whether in the office, on the road, or anywhere in between.

When it comes to performance, today’s users deserve exceptional power and maximum performance, and that’s what Dell’s Precision range, brought to South Africa by Tarsus Distribution, provides. Furthermore, they need a solution that features AI-based performance software that has the ability to automatically tune the workstations by employing machine learning, to boost performance even further.  In addition, professional processors and graphics, combined with an enormous memory and wide range of storage options make these machines ideal for any workload.

Optimise infrastructure using a trusted, knowledgeable advisor 

In today’s digital-first world, powerful, optimised IT infrastructure is critical to delivering the top customer experience that today’s consumers demand.

Today’s pace of technological change, alongside accelerated digital transformation, has significantly added to infrastructure complexity and lack of visibility. Most organisations have a range of silos of technology and pockets of development scattered about, and don’t really understand how it all fits together. 

Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge and visibility leads to IT sprawl, which in turn, means underutilised compute, unchecked storage growth, and level upon level of virtual systems which impede operations, slow systems down, and expose the organisation to security risks.

To prevent this, organisations need to optimise their infrastructure, as sprawl introduces unnecessary costs and complexity, as well as additional management requirements, which are a major hindrance in any competitive business environment.

According to Chris Larkins, Business Unit Manager for Enterprise at South Africa’s leading ICT distributor, Tarsus Distribution, the significant evolution we have seen in terms of remote and hybrid workforces, has exacerbated the problem, and created confusion around the infrastructure organisations have, where it is, and what it does.

For Larkins, the place to start, is understanding the problem that needs to be solved, and working from there. “You can’t manage what you don’t know you have, so first identify the areas where you have obvious challenges, as resolving these will give you an instant win, and enable you to move on to the next step.”

“However, to address these pain points effectively, you will need to have in-depth conversations with the various areas of the business, to find out what these challenges are and what is the best way to resolve them. At this point, having a channel partner with a deep understanding of both the vendors’ offerings and business’s understanding and knowledge of these, can be of tremendous benefit.”

Larkins says, “A vendor such as Dell has a value proposition that is all-encompassing, as it is able to critically view all aspects of the infrastructure, from device to data centre, to connectivity, and everything in between.”

“No infrastructure optimisation can happen without a thorough analysis of the business to discover what you currently have, where you need to be, and what is needed to meet that goal. Also, remember that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, as each business will have its own, unique requirements. Rather, there needs to be a dialogue that is a work in progress, developing and adapting as new issues arise.”

“At Tarsus Distribution, we are firm believers in having in-depth conversations that evolve alongside the process,” adds Larkins. “Our end goal is to guarantee that each customer fully understands what they can and should be doing, what their industry counterparts are up to, and what needs to happen to ensure their infrastructure is optimised in an iterative fashion.”

According to him, the benefits of optimisation handled in this way are many. For starters, it helps the business internally, allowing it to be infinitely more flexible and agile. It also helps the company implement new revenue models and ensure that its data and systems are more secure. 

“From the customer-facing view, optimised infrastructure enables the business to transform into a data-led business, employing analytics and AI to deliver deeper, more targeted benefits to customers, and also to quicken the speed of delivery of these,” he says. 

“We have worked with organisations in every industry as they moved from an on-premise to a cloud or hybrid cloud environment. These moves are always driven by varying data sets and workloads, so a discussion around optimisation is key to unlocking the flexibility and choice needed to implement the environment that is most suitable for the customer’s specific needs. For example, certain data is highly sensitive and proprietary and needs to be stored on premise, while other data which is generated at the edge, for example, needs to be managed in a different way.”

One element of the infrastructure that particularly benefits from optimisation is storage, due to the sheer quantities of data generated via a slew of sources.   With an increasing amount of information being generated, and more ways in which to store and use it being discovered, optimisation becomes key if the business hopes to gain actionable insights from this data and use it to stay ahead of the competition.

“Not only is Dell able to offer everything a customer needs from a data centre infrastructure perspective, but it is also able to guarantee that everything is built on open standards, which means there is no vendor lock in, and the customer can work with a wide range of solutions, of their choice, and then gain the skills and support they need to begin the process,” Larkins explains.

Tarsus Distribution does not only provide the full Dell suite, but more importantly it is able to place its experts with the reseller’s team, as they have the deep knowledge and expertise needed to meet the relevant requirements and help not only all the way through to the deployment stage, but with after sales support too. 

“In this way, the end-customer benefits from the uptime and usage out of their environment from day one, and also gets an excellent return on their investment.”

Tarsus Distribution, says Larkins, sets itself apart from other distributors because it invests heavily in the skills and capabilities needed in today’s digital world, specifically when it comes to pre-sales and business development stacks.

“In this way, we have the confidence to put our people in front of our partners or their customers and rest assured that they have the knowledge and industry experience to ask the right questions and implement solutions that meet the customer’s specific needs from the ground up,” he adds.

Tarsus Distribution is always ready, willing and able to have these in-depth conversations to ensure that our expertise can be leveraged, and we can assume the role of trusted advisor. 

“It’s not about the product for us, it’s about having the knowledge and understanding of the customer’s unique pain points, in order to help them reach their goals when it comes to growth, flexibility and delivery, via the effective optimisation of their critical infrastructure,” Larkins ends.

New offerings in large format printing

"The global large format printer market, estimated to be $8.9 billion in 2021, is expected to reach $11.63 billion by 2026, growing annually by 5.5%. Although the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily hindered the growth of the printer market due to the economic impact of lockdowns, 2022 is seeing the start of a resurgence for the industry." Bernice Hynard, General Manager, Print Solutions at Tarsus Distribution

Large or wide-format printers (LFPs) are speciality printers that print on larger and heavier materials than the standard printers found in a typical office. It’s a specialised product used in the construction, apparel and textiles, signage​, advertising​, decor​, CAD and technical printing​, and geographic vertical markets.

Interior decor is just one example of a growing market. This covers many things, from fine art to durable upholstery, but the size of the opportunity is huge. The global digitally printed wallpaper market has been predicted to grow at 23.6% annually, for example, until 2025, to reach a total value of $10.4 billion.

Tarsus Distribution has long been an authorised distributor of large format printers from market leader HP. Aimed at resellers and end-users, we also have highly experienced partners that install and maintain these complex machines on behalf of smaller partners for businesses of all sizes. Our specialist partners are able to provide turnkey print solutions for a range of machines, in line with the needs of end-user customers

An LFP is a big investment. For SMBs that are not in a position to buy LFPs, we are one of the very few large format ecosystems in the country that offer a pay-per-use model, in addition to lease or outright purchase. Known in the industry as ‘pay-per-inch, it’s a comprehensive and customised programme, which ensures that users pay a fixed ‘per inch’ charge for the square inches they print.

This makes large format printing accessible to SMBs for whom the balance sheet may not allow for the purchase of a machine that costs hundreds of thousands of rand. It also helps to manage and contain costs. The benefit of this approach is that the device becomes an income generator for the end-user instead of a cost centre and can be a highly lucrative proposition.

What is also important to bear in mind is that HP has committed a significant budget to research and development and shows no sign of slowing down. Customers can therefore be certain that the company will continue to innovate and impress when it comes to its range of LFPs.

Because of the specialised technology, there’s no true one-size-fits-all solution. Tarsus Distribution helps the reseller to establish customer needs in terms of functionality, performance, and ultimate image quality and is available to help end-users select the printer that’s best suited to their business.



 Stepping up digital transformation is critical to SMB survival

We are at a point in time where the question of executing a digital transformation plan is not a matter of if, but a question of when and how.

SMBs are a critical engine of the South African economy. Across the country, they represent more than 98% of businesses, employ between 50 and 60% of the workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector.

As the marketplace becomes increasingly global, they are under enormous pressure to remain competitive and stay ahead of the curve, a business imperative in a post-pandemic world. While COVID-19 accelerated digital SMB digitalisation, many continue to lag behind larger organisations in their adoption of digital technologies. Digital adoption by SMBs is to a large extent still confined to basic services.

Lack of information and awareness, skills gaps, insufficient capital or outdated technology are among the factors holding them back. Given the extraordinary number of tech buzzwords that seem to proliferate daily, it’s hardly surprising that digital transformation can seem overwhelming – distributed cloud, hyper-automation, quantum computing, cybersecurity mesh, multi-experience, everything-as-a-service. Yet there is enormous value for SMBs in stepping up digital transformation investments. Doing so is critical to survival.

Becoming customer-centric

"Digital transformation is a customer-centric strategy. It equips SMBs to embrace the rapid pace of change. And it is not just about technology. Digital transformation is about customers, strategy, people, culture and being equipped to make the most of the rapid advancements in technology." Gary Pickford, Chief Commercial Officer, Tarsus Distribution

SMBs stand to benefit from new digitally enhanced practices and tools which create unparalleled opportunities for them to overcome the barriers they typically face in innovating and growing. Those that have taken the digital leap are seeing value in stepping up investments in digital transformation and are at it more holistically and strategically.

Emerging digital technologies enable greater product differentiation, better integration of supply chain systems and new business models that enable shorter time to market. They also enable a reduction in transaction costs associated with market activities as a result of access to information, communication and networking, boosting performance and productivity.

Starting with the basics

SMB owners are often unaware of the benefit potential new digital tools could offer for improving their business. They shouldn’t stop in their tracks when they hear “digital transformation” because they think it is beyond their resources. Instead they need to find technology partners who can help to set them on the path to the future through simple solutions like SaaS productivity tools, mobile access to business-critical apps, or tracking sales and marketing analytics.

The increasing availability and simplicity of automation tools makes it much easier for SMBs to embrace evolving technology enthusiastically. The result includes increased employee productivity, faster lead conversions, and better insights from customer or product data. This in turn facilitates accurate and timeous decision-making – the difference between win or lose for SMBs.



Future-proof your business using high-powered Intel Xeon CPUs

Enterprise data centres are being transformed forever. Hybrid workforces have become the norm, and enterprises are having to store, process and analyse floods of data. This places new demands on every enterprise’s compute, network, and storage infrastructure, challenging their ability to deliver new services, such as cloud computing and big data analytics.

Enterprises need to harness this data using powerful AI and analytics that can turn it into actionable, business-altering insights. They can then roll out solutions and services that put those insights to work to meet customers’ needs.

The migration of key on-premise capabilities to the cloud that began a few years ago. It accelerated rapidly during the global pandemic, driving a cloud-first approach. This approach meant enterprises had to deliver strong cyber security at scale and at speed in an increasingly complex threat landscape with determined adversaries.

Business agility has become synonymous with IT agility. So IT needs to respond quickly to new and changing business demands, and scale to fluctuating business needs on the fly. Innovative service delivery and business value are increasingly dependent on data centre flexibility and efficiency. 

All this and more has driven a demand for innovative server and network infrastructure, optimised for AI, analytics, big data, hybrid workforces. Infrastructure that is powered by a new and revolutionary central processing unit, or CPU. The CPU is the element that provides the instructions and processing power the computer needs to do its work. The more powerful and updated the processor, the faster a computer can complete its tasks. In a nutshell, a powerful processor enables a computer to think and work faster.

Step in Intel's Xeon line of CPUs, infrastructure which is built to see the evolving demand of today’s data centres, offering extraordinary performance, and unparalleled flexibility. Intel’s Xeon CPUs are balanced, workload-optimised, and based on Intel’s architecture that is known and trusted across the globe. Intel Xeon Scalable processors deliver built-in AI acceleration and advanced security capabilities that help place workloads securely where they perform best, all the way from the edge to cloud. 

Whether it is supporting critical workloads at the edge, building a secure cloud, or helping professionals stay productive, there is an Intel Xeon processor designed to meet every organisation’s unique computing needs. For example, today’s entities need remote access to computing, storage, and networking resources. Intel’s CPUs are designed to deliver reliable, scalable, workload-optimised performance.

In addition, as AI becomes more critical to serving customers, deploying the infrastructure needed to support AI at scale can become a challenge, but Intel makes the implementation process both quick and simple. In terms of the edge, Intel’s CPUs help resolve the IT and operational complexities that go hand in hand with edge deployments. From storefronts to cell towers to factory floors, and almost everywhere in between, the edge is powered by Intel Xeon CPUs. Similarly, as a future-ready platform, Intel Xeon processor-based workstations handle resource-intensive applications and workloads with ease, featuring built-in features for security, manageability, scalability, as well as AI. 

Intel Xeon CPUs offer a balanced architecture with built-in acceleration and advanced security capabilities, designed through decades of innovation for the most in-demand workload requirements. Moreover, through partnerships with software leaders around the world, these solutions are optimised for specific customer workload types and performance levels, all with the consistent, open Intel architecture that enterprises in every sector know and trust.

In addition, Xeon CPUs are optimised for cloud, enterprise, high performance computing, network, security, and Internet of things workloads with between eight and 40 powerful cores and a wide range of frequency, feature, and power levels. 

These CPUs are also charged with Intel Crypto Acceleration, which enhances data protection and privacy by boosting the performance of encryption-intensive workloads including secure socket layer (SSL) web serving, 5G infrastructure, as well as VPN and firewalls, while limiting the performance impact of pervasive encryption. 

Furthermore, the Intel Xeon range is the only data centre CPU on the market that boasts built-in AI acceleration, end-to-end data science tools, as well as an ecosystem of smart solutions. They are also engineered for the demands of cloud workloads and to fuel a wide range of ‘everything-as-a-service’ or XaaS environments.

Intel’s Xeon Scalable processors are based on a balanced, efficient architecture that increases core performance, memory, and input / output bandwidth to accelerate diverse workloads from the data centre to the intelligent edge, and comes with built-in workload acceleration of which features include Intel Deep Learning Boost, Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512, and Intel Speed Select technology.

For more information on Intel’s Xeon range of CPUs, please reach out to Tarsus Distribution today.

Dell's unsung hero: storage solutions

Chris Larkins, Enterprise Business Unit Manager, Tarsus

The reality of rapid digital transformation means all businesses need to do more with less. While data storage demands explode and companies are flooded with data from multiple sources, dated storage systems cannot realistically address today's challenges. They were designed and deployed in silos, and cannot be properly virtualised to reduce costs and enhance efficiencies.

The cloud, combined with the technologies we already mentioned, are driving a massive demand for additional storage, and with it, more functionality and scalability within today’s data centre environments. Here again, legacy storage architectures are ineffective. They are traditionally complex, limited and costly. Data is coupled to hardware and vendor-driven hardware and software upgrades are onerous and inconvenient. These restrictions meant businesses had to over-provision to ensure they had capacity to meet growing demands, despite budget constraints.

This is why Dell’s approach to storage architectures is ideal for today’s needs. Dell’s solutions begin with flexible, modular designs that integrate across a broad ecosystem of internal and external capabilities, with ease. Dell’s solutions were designed with virtualised environments in mind. They are completely scalable, incredibly agile, and are unencumbered by the limitations that legacy solutions carry. They feature flexible, scalable tiering and licensing models that reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Dell’s storage solutions optimise data centre infrastructure, scale up or down as needed, and quickly adapt to evolving business needs without downtime, or the need for manual intervention. This helps businesses to intelligently manage increasing data volumes and reap maximum business value - including business continuity during a catastrophic event. 

In partnership with Dell, he says, Tarsus Distribution is helping its channel partners and their clients to implement data centre and virtualisation strategies that meet their unique needs, to allow them more rapid response times and a much lower total cost of ownership. Regardless of whether the organisation uses performance-optimised flash technologies or ultra-dense storage enclosures or any solution in that spectrum, Dell’s storage portfolio is so comprehensive, it has a solution to meet any business requirements.

From the smallest entity to the largest corporate, Dell has a solution designed to meet specific storage needs. They range from direct-attached to various networked-attached offerings, , all-flash storage and a variety of cloud options. As each business has its own capacity, as well as backup and recovery needs, making the right choice isn’t always easy, but Dell and Tarsus help companies manage the complexity with minimum pain and maximum profit.

Using predictive forecasting to anticipate customer demand

"If product isn’t available for customers to purchase because it’s out of stock, businesses lose out on revenue. But unused inventory incurs costs and takes up space. With predictive forecasting, businesses can make proactive decisions in line with customer needs." Fatima Mahamed, Demand Planner, Tarsus Distribution

In the age of the customer, market leaders build their competitive edge using data to anticipate what customers want and deliver it faster.

Like many business needs, supply chain and demand planning are going digital. Improving forecasting accuracy, and reducing stock-outs and excess stock, are fundamental to the success of a technology distributor and its channel. At Tarsus Distribution, which distributes a wide range of brands through its reseller network, our predictive inventory planning solution Netstock ensures that our supply chain is efficient and reliable.

From inventory optimisation, forecasting and demand planning, to replenishment, and sales and operations planning (S&OP), we are able to meet the demands of our resellers and enable them to deliver the best possible service, support, and overall solutions to the SMB end-user market at the best possible cost.

Procurement automation is about automating your procurement processes to maximise efficiency and reduce the time taken. It speeds up the procurement process by freeing employees from repetitive and time-intensive tasks.

Why procurement automation?

The supply and demand variables impacting any business’s inventory have grown infinitely more complex. Aggregating this data manually, forecasting and planning via spreadsheets, and ordering based on experience and intuition simply do not cut it anymore. By using our customer-centric business intelligence, we are able to leverage our inventory data to ensure that we meet the needs of our partners and their customers. This allows them to confidently place orders and build smart inventory plans.

When we know, for example, that a certain item is on a waiting list and has not been available for some time, we are able to recommend alternatives that we already have in stock so that the end-user’s needs can be met.

How forecasting improves decision-making

Forecasting is a game-changer for our business. It assesses the number of sales and timing of sales which helps us schedule all aspects of your supply chain, including warehousing, and shipping. We can predict drastic increases in demand, at the beginning of the school year for example, and plan accordingly to ensure we have enough of the correct stock available to meet the needs of schools, teachers and learners. We simply use previous sales data and trends to determine how much inventory to order for a certain time period from our vendors.

Our product managers always have real-time data and recommendations to hand. This means they have actionable intelligence to make decisions that can drive business growth and provide prescriptive recommendations for the most important inventory decisions you need to make today.

Balancing supply and demand

Keeping up with the demand for a product is critical because failing to do so can result in lost revenue for the product or worse, lost customers. One of our main goals is to have just the right amount of inventory to meet customer demand without incurring shortages or wasting money on ordering and storing surplus inventory.

By taking into account different trends, cycles and fluctuations in our data to make predictions about future product demands, this powerful data-driven approach turns our demand planning into a process that can boost our partners’ long-term profitability.


Leveraging technology to improve customer experience

Exceptional customer service is not optional for today’s businesses. In order to succeed, customer experience must be a top priority.

"Innovation is the watchword of the digital age. For decades, the focus has been on product innovation, with software, electronics and consumer products generating billions of dollars of value. Today, however, product innovations are often incremental and fleeting, with competitors quickly matching or surpassing most improvements. At the same time, social media prompts consumers to quickly switch allegiances with attractive new offers." Johannes Groenewald, General Manager: Demand Factory, Tarsus Distribution

If the product is no longer the hero, what is driving differentiation and growth? The answer lies in customer experience.

Eighty percent of customers today say that the experiences companies provide are as important as their products or services, and customers are 2.7 times more likely to continue doing business with a company that provides high-quality service.

It is no coincidence therefore that the most innovative brands in the world are also leading the way in customer experience. Brands like Apple, Disney, Amazon and Zappos are front of mind during conversations about memorable customer experiences. Few companies in our digital era are as synonymous with the concept of great customer service as Zappos. That’s because the company sees customers as people first.

Because customer priorities are constantly changing, successful companies continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition and provide excellent, relevant experiences for customers.

An antidote to mass haircare

American haircare brand Prose is one example of how the beauty industry is turning toward individualisation. The company decided that customer segmentation was not working, because it was trying to put people in a box. In 2020, Prose implemented an automated fulfilment technology, which lets the company produce made-to-order products at scale while reducing environmental waste.

A proprietary algorithm uses 85 different factors to determine a blend of ingredients and creates a formula for customers that is 100 percent unique to each individual. With over 79 trillion different possible permutations, Prose has become one of the most personalised beauty brands in the world.

Trying on clothes virtually

Walmart recently launched Choose My Model, a virtual try-on tool powered by computer vision and artificial intelligence on the company’s website and app that allows shoppers to pick a person who resembles their height, shape and skin tone to show how clothes would look on them without having to go to a store. The aim is to provide a best-in-class shopping experience online and lead the way in the shopping of the future.

The Choose My Model tool aims to make customers more likely to click the “buy” button, especially on higher-priced items from an unfamiliar brand and could lead to a lower return rate.

Personalised AI-powered cooler doors

US pharmacy chain giant Walgreen’s refrigerator and freezer doors act as a digital merchandising platform that depicts the food and drinks inside in their best light, but also as an in-store billboard that can serve ads to consumers who approach, based on variables such as the approximate age the technology believes they are, their gender and the weather.

Cameras and sensors inside the coolers connected to face-detection technology can also determine which items shoppers picked up or looked at, giving advertisers insight into whether their on-screen promotions worked – and can let a retailer know quickly if a product has gone out of stock.

These are just some of the exciting ways that customer experience is evolving, driven by the critical need for better customer experiences as a brand differentiator, and the AI advancement to enable those experiences.



Dell Latitude - your anytime, anywhere office

George Moss, Business Unit Manager: Dell CSG, Tarsus 

If technology made distributed or mobile work potentially possible, the COVID-19 pandemic made it an absolute necessity. A “temporary” adjustment is seemingly here to stay, with billions of workers across the globe now working remotely, or on the go.

The challenge now is to ensure that location-independent employee workspaces are collaborative, productive environments that enable staff members to access critical business applications remotely and securely. Cloud technology that has been key to enabling remote work - whether at home or in the field. People can remotely access the same software, applications, and data as they would in physical offices. 

The benefits are significant. Remote workforces enable better customer service with instant answers to customers by remotely accessing data instead of having to wait until they return to the office. Daily commutes are eliminated so that people can enjoy better work/life balance. This translates into happier employees, greater productivity, and fewer sick days. Their employers can save millions in capital expenditure on buildings, or monthly office rentals. Organisations can also offer around-the-clock customer service or maintain continuous workflows with staff members scattered across a wide range of time zones. Should they suffer downtime from a catastrophe or some other event, employees who are mobile are able to carry on working.

But it all depends on the right equipment. Dell Latitude is the most intelligent and secure business PC range with built-in AI, meaning each organisation’s perfect office is wherever they want it to be. These machines also feature privacy powered by intelligence and boast the world’s most comprehensive suite of intelligent privacy features, including Onlooker Detection and Look Away Detect.

The Latitude range enables users to collaborate as if they are sitting across from their coworkers. Intelligent audio includes Neural Noise Cancellation, which eliminates unwanted background noise as well as the background noise of the participants on any given call. Also, high-quality video in every lighting condition is enabled by FHD IR cameras with dual sensors and temporal noise reduction helps users to look their best, irrespective of the space they are in, or the time of day.

In terms of performance, the Latitude range can handle today’s multi-tasking demands powered by Intel vPro with 11th Gen Intel up to Core i7 processors. Dell also has an ideal peripheral for every user, including wireless keyboards, mobile USB-C adapters, multi-USB adapters, wireless mice, and many more.